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Indy 500 Festival Defines the Month of May

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One of the largest festivals in the nation, the Indy 500 Festival is a series of events that take place throughout the month of May in Indianapolis, leading up to the running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Nearly half a million Hoosiers participate in the festivities. This year's festival theme is "Laps, Legends and Legacy: Honoring the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."

The 500 Festival is a non-profit organization, and the events and programs of the festival are run primarily by volunteers.

Festival Events

Festival events and programs for 2009 will include the following:

  • Centennial Era Balloon Festival
  • Firestone Indy Lights Practice
  • Rookie Orientation Program
  • 93rd Indy 500 Opening Day
  • Fast Friday
  • Pole Day
  • Qualifications
  • Indy 500 Practice Days
  • The 500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard
  • The Coke Zero Music Festival
  • Armed Forces Day
  • Chase 500 Festival Kids' Day and Rookie Run
  • American Family Insurance 500 Festival Community Day
  • Firestone Freedom 100 Practice
  • Miller Lite Carb Day Concert
  • The Indy 500 Parade
  • The Regions 500 Festival Snakepit Ball
And, of course, last but not least, the running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.

The Festival's Beginnings

The first 500 Festival took place in 1957, and was the brainchild of four Indianapolis businessmen: Indianapolis Mayor Alex Clark; Joe Quinn, Safety Director for the IMS; J. Worth Baker, Shrine Potentate in 1957; and Howard Wilcox, promotions director for the Indianapolis Star. That first festival consisted of a parade and a square dance gala. More than 150,000 witnessed the parade, and the Boy Scouts began their annual tradition of handling parade seating.

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